22 August 2023
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has successfully prosecuted a Tasmanian-based logging company and its director following pleas of guilty to serious offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
As a result, the Tasmanian Local Court issued two Supervisory Intervention Orders (SIOs) worth $100,000 to the company and its director and ordered fines of $80,000 and $8,000, respectively.
Following an extensive investigation, the NHVR identified that over a 12-month period, the company had 251 fatigue-related breaches which were undetected by the company and its director. Due to the management of these practices, charges were laid under sections 26G (Category 2) and 26H (Category 3) of the HVNL.
The Tasmanian Local Court found that the company and its director had failed to take reasonably practicable steps as an employer (company) and scheduler (director) in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR). The director also failed to take reasonably practicable steps as an executive of the company to exercise due diligence to ensure the company complied with its safety duty.
According to the Court, the company and the director’s failure to take reasonably practical steps, as mandated by the HVNL, resulted in a culture of continued and systemic breaches of the safety duties imposed by the HVNL.
These failures exposed employed drivers of the company and the public to a risk of death or serious injury.
As a result of the above, the Court issued two SIOs worth $100,000 to the company and its director, requiring them to address their faults in fatigue management, and ordered fines of $80,000 and $8,000, respectively.
SIOs are orders of the court which require the convicted person, at the person’s own expense and for a stated period of no more than one year, do one or more of the following:
The court will only issue a SIO if it is satisfied the order is capable of improving the convicted person’s ability or willingness to comply the HVNL. A contravention of a SIO without reasonable excuse carries with it a maximum penalty of $10,000.
The SIO ordered against the company was for 12 months with conditions to receive training in the following units:
The director’s SIO was also for 12 months with conditions to receive training in the following units:
The director must also not engage in activities as a scheduler until the NHVR confirms that it has received the certificates of completion for the above training.
In announcing the decision, the NHVR said that:
“both outcomes are significant as they will help improve safety across the industry…the sentence is designed to deter the company and [director] from repeating the offence while protecting the safety of industry and the broader community. We urge all companies to review their training practices to manage the fatigue of their drivers.
Fatigue is a serious issue that can result in serious injury or death. It is imperative you train your drivers and take on the responsibility of fatigue management…using orders such as these [i.e., SIO], risks can be addressed and encourage safer practices.”
If you have any questions about this article, fatigue management or how to respond to a Supervisory Intervention Order, please get in touch with partner Nathan Cecil or a member of our Transport, Shipping & Logistics team below.
The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.